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Peruvian State Condemned by Inter-American Court of Human Rights for Environmental Negligence

by Anghy Aquino | 28-03-2024 16:04 recommendations 0

The recent condemnation of Peru by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos - CIDH) serves as a harsh reminder of the devastating consequences of government negligence. The judgment, handed down on March 22, 2024, highlights the severe environmental contamination inflicted on the community of La Oroya by a metallurgical complex. This condemnation underscores a long-standing pattern of state irresponsibility and disregard for the welfare of its citizens.

La Oroya, which in 2006 was among the ten most polluted places on the planet, has been suffering for years from the harmful effects of the La Oroya Metallurgical Complex (Complejo Metalúrgico La Oroya - CMLO). The Court held the Peruvian State directly responsible for violating a multitude of human rights, including the right to a healthy environment, to health, to personal integrity, to a dignified life, to access to information, to political participation, to judicial guarantees, to judicial protection, to the rights of the child and to the right to life.

The environmental impact of the CMLO has been devastating, with air pollution in La Oroya far exceeding national guidelines and resulting in elevated levels of lead and other metals in the population's bloodstream. Despite repeated warnings and evidence of harm, the Peruvian State failed in its duty to adequately regulate and supervise CMLO's activities. In addition, it failed to provide adequate medical assistance to the victims of the contamination, which aggravated the suffering of the affected individuals and communities.

In response to the condemnation, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has ordered Peru to conduct a comprehensive baseline assessment of air, water and soil contamination in La Oroya. This assessment must be accompanied by a plan to repair environmental damage and provide free medical care to those affected. In addition, the State is ordered to review its air quality standards to ensure the protection of both the environment and public health.

This condemnation serves as a stark indictment of the Peruvian state's historical negligence and corruption. For decades, successive governments prioritized corporate interests over the welfare of their citizens, enacting laws that favored mining companies at the expense of public health and environmental sustainability. The La Oroya case is a testament to the failure of governance, spanning from the 1920s to the present day.

The ruling should not be a mere symbolic gesture. It is imperative that Peru fulfill its obligations promptly and effectively, ensuring justice for all those affected by environmental contamination. The victims of La Oroya have long been waiting for accountability and help to overcome the devastating consequences of heavy metal contamination. This conviction must mark a turning point, signaling an end to impunity and a commitment to environmental justice.

As citizens, we cannot remain silent in the face of such blatant disregard for human rights and environmental protection. It is our collective responsibility to hold our leaders accountable and ensure that the lessons learned from La Oroya resonate throughout the nation and the world. Only through sustained advocacy and action can we prevent similar tragedies and defend the rights of present and future generations to a clean and healthy environment. The Movimiento por la Salud de La Oroya (Movement for the Health of La Oroya) led by environmental advocates such as Rosa Amaro and Yolanda Zurita, who for many years fought for justice for those affected in La Oroya, is a great example of what we as citizens should do in the face of environmental violations.

Reference materials:

Deutsche Welle. (2024, March 22). CIDH condena a Perú por contaminación en La Oroya. DW. https://www.dw.com/es/cidh-condena-a-per%C3%BA-por-contaminaci%C3%B3n-de-empresa-metal%C3%BArgica-en-la-oroya/a-68647303 

González, R. (2024, March 27). La Oroya crea precedente contra contaminación minera para la región. SciDev.Net . https://www.scidev.net/america-latina/news/la-oroya-crea-precedente-contra-contaminacion-minera-para-la-region/#:~:text=vulnerando%20esos%20derechos.-,En%20el%20fallo%2C%20dado%20el%20viernes%2022%20de%20marzo%2C%20la,ciudades%20m%C3%A1s%20contaminadas%20del%20mundo. 



  • Peru Former E-gen Ambassador Anghy Aquino
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Seeun Mentor

  • Seeun Mentor says :
    Hello, this is mentor Seeun.
    Wow, I can feel your enthusiasm about this topic.
    I agree that as citizens - of any country there is - must speak up to m are a change.
    Thank you for your report.
    Posted 30-03-2024 22:38

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